first job advice

Nurses General Nursing


Do you think it is better for a new graduate to go straight into a specialty, or get a year or so of med-surg experience first?


33 Posts

Before this offends anyone-----I do realize that med-surg can be a specialty. Some of our instructors say we should immediately begin working where we want to, and others say it's better to have some experience on a floor where you tend to see a little bit of everything first.:)


303 Posts

I don't think there is necessarily a "better," since a lot depends on the new nurse.

I started on a telemetry/medical floor. Eventually I floated to surgical floor. As tele nurses we staffed the ICU when they were short. I was bitten by the ICU bug and pursued that. I did have about three to four years experience before I went into ICU.

I have certainly worked w/new grads that started in ICU and are doing very well.

Personally I was glad I had the experience, that way I could concentrate on the ICU specifics, since I felt comfortable w/the already existing med/surg pathology.

Good luck!


2,099 Posts

Specializes in Corrections, Psych, Med-Surg.

This issue has been discussed at some length on several threads on this forum, so rather than repeating myself and others, I would suggest you track them down.


33 Posts

Thanks for your reply:) When people would ask me where I wanted to work in the beginning of school, I would always say I was going to wait until I had seen everything in clinical and then I would decide. I know I haven't seen everything, but I have a better idea of everything, and I'm still not sure where I would like to work. I have 2 years experience as a nursing assistant in pediatrics---------NO THANKS. When I started that job I thought it was going to be wonderful, but it's not for me! At our local hospital we do not have LDRP rooms. Labor & Delivery, and postpartum are separate. I enjoyed postpartum (mom/baby), but it's impossible to get a job there because it's the happiest floor in the hospital. Everyone is healthy and happy (minus the pain of childbirth which is soon forgotten once the baby arrives). If mom's sick she moves to high risk OB-----If baby is sick he/she moves to NICU or Peds. So many nurses seem miserable with their jobs----I really want to do something that I enjoy because I believe the only way to truly be good at what you do is to enjoy what you do.(That's just a personal statement I try to live by):)


33 Posts

Originally posted by sjoe

This issue has been discussed at some length on several threads on this forum, so rather than repeating myself and others, I would suggest you track them down.

Sorry----went back through 10 pages and couldn't find anything. Any other replies would be greatly appreciated:)

suzanne4, RN

26,410 Posts

I have worked with nurses in specialty areas that had no prior experience, and some that had at least one year. It really depends on the nurse, but the ones with at least one year of experience in a non-critical care area felt much more comfortable right in the beginning. I have precepted many nurses through the years, whether ICU, ER, or the OR. I may hurt some feelings here but the ones that had time under their belt in another area first just seemed much happier and more confident. The nursing programs that are available now don't have the hands on clinical time that we had in the "old days" due to many of the students being considered as guests at that particular hospital. When I went to nursing school our instructors were actually employed by the hospital, so we had a more varied experience than many of the others that rotated thru. Again, this is just my experience.

Hope that this helps.


558 Posts

If I could do it over again I would have done 6mos or so in med/surg. Instead I went into LTC which is great but I dont think I have as broad a base of experiences as I would like.

llg, PhD, RN

13,469 Posts

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development.

It depends a lot on the specifics of the nurse, the desired specialty, etc. I can see where a little med-surg experience would be a great help for adult ICU, ED, etc. However ...

I have coordinated Neonatal ICU orientations for years and have found that a little med-surg experience often makes the NICU orientation more difficult. Because the clinical fields are so different, the orientee with med-surg experience has to "un-learn" much of what they learned in med-surg. They also feel emotionally as if the rug has been pulled out from under them as they find themselves in such a different environment. Those two things (emotional insecurity and the need to "un-learn") are too much for a lot of people to handle.

I have found it much easier to orient new grads because they expect not to know everything and never developed a comfort level in med-surg that now becomes a hindrance. (Does that make sense?)

So ... as with many questions ... the real answer is "it depends."



575 Posts

Specializes in CVICU.

Check out this thread it is about new grads going into the ER...

This topic is now closed to further replies.

By using the site, you agree with our Policies. X